Do I need ‘proper’ education?

My parents have threatened to kick me out if I don’t go back to college – but I don’t want to! 

Your parents have a point, says our elder. Why not go back part time while you explore potential careers?


Dear EWC

I’m 18, turning 19 in a few months, and still live with my parents. I went to community college right out of high school thinking that I could just major in studio arts and have my parents off my back but it has gotten a lot more complicated. The stress of going back to classes has made me want to take a year off but when I mentioned it to my parents, they threatened me to register for classes or they’ll kick me out. I want to take that time to learn to drive and get experience working but they say without a proper education I can’t get a good job and will get lazy and not go back to school. I have no idea what to do – registration has been going on for over month and all the classes have been mostly filled. I haven’t done any of the paperwork for financial aid either and they’re slowly putting more pressure on me as August gets closer. I don’t know how to tell them without an argument or how I’m going to manage after that.


Ketchman replies

Thank you for contacting us. I’ll try to offer something useful.

I’ve got to admit that your parents are correct when they say that without a ‘proper’ education – which I take to mean some post high school training – your job prospects are pretty limited. Both my own experience in large and small businesses and reams of statistics make it pretty clear that having only a high school education generally limits your job prospects to low paid gigs with few benefits and minimal job security. You could, of course, get lucky and find an employer who’s willing to train you into a good position; or have a great idea and build it into a business. Those things have happened but the odds are against you; and, in this uncertain world, it’s usually wiser to play the odds.

When you decided to get an associates degree in studio arts was that because you had a real desire to make a career in that field or did you, more or less, choose that randomly to get your parents off your back?  From what you’ve told me it sounds more like the latter. If I’m correct, I think it’s important for you to take some time to think about what sort of work you’d really like to do and then do whatever it takes to get qualified for that work.

What I suggest is to take a couple of the general courses that are required for pretty much all of the programs offered by your college, go to school part time and get a job for a year. During that period, use the school career guidance counselors to get an idea of what kind of work is out there that you might like. I guarantee that they can show you a lot of careers you might have never heard of or thought about. You’ll have the time to learn to drive, get some experience working, and not give up on the schooling that I believe is so important to your future. That might also satisfy your parents.

I would like you to have a life in which you are not dependent on anyone for financial support. A life in which you can afford a decent place to live, good food to eat, and enough left over to have some fun, travel a bit, and save a little for retirement. The sense of freedom and joy that will give you is more than I can express in this message. The key to it is getting training and certification in an employable, or otherwise money-making skill – especially one that you enjoy doing.


School #461910

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